The end of an era: Israel bids farewell to Shimon Peres, one of its founding fathers

Dozens of world leaders gathered in Jerusalem to pay their final respect to Israel's former President and Prime Minister, who died at the age of 93.
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Israel's former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres was laid to rest on Friday at the Great Leaders of the Nation's plot on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl. Following a crowded funeral attended by dozens of foreign leaders, Peres' burial ceremony was small and modest. Among the speakers were US President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

"In many ways, he reminded me of some other giants of the 20th century that I've had the honor to meet," Obama said. "Men like Nelson Mandela, women like Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. Leaders who have seen so much, whose lives spanned such momentous epics, that they find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment. People who speak with depth and knowledge, not in soundbites."

Peres' grandchildren by his grave Photo credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Netanyahu, in his eulogy, mentioned the funeral of his brother, Yoni, where he and Peres met for the first time. "Two days after the bold rescue operation in Entebbe, in which my brother was killed, his funeral took place right here," he said. "Shimon gave a heartbreaking eulogy speech that I will never ever forget. From that moment, a strong and special connection was formed between us, which was never broken."

Clinton said of Peres, "I always was in awe of his endless capacity to move beyond even the most crushing setbacks in order to seize the possibilities of each new day."

Photo credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

President Rivlin said Peres' death was "a tremendous personal and national loss, as well as the end of an era. The era of the nation's giants, whose life stories are the history of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel."

Amos Oz, an acclaimed author and one of Peres' closest friends, brought up politics when describing Peres' willingness to make sacrifices for peace. "Since the Israelis and the Palestinians cannot suddenly become one happy family, it is inevitable that we divide this home into two apartments for two families," he said. "Deep down, everybody knows this is true. But where are the brave leaders who will rise up and make it happen? Where are the successors of Shimon Peres?"

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